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UN Security Council Slams Attacks on Oil Tankers in Middle East

UN Security Council Slams Attacks on Oil Tankers in Middle East

Tuesday, 25 June, 2019 - 07:00
Tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the UAE. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The UN Security Council condemned on Monday the attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, deeming them a serious threat to international peace and security and the world’s energy supply.

"The council members urge concerned parties and all countries in the region to exercise maximum restraint and take measures and actions to reduce escalation and end tension," Kuwait's UN ambassador, Mansour Al-Otaibi, said in a statement following a Security Council meeting.

In a unanimous press statement drafted by Kuwait, the 15-member council called for dialogue and measures to end tensions in the Gulf, but Iran rejected talks with the United States after President Donald Trump imposed fresh sanctions.

After a two-hour meeting, the council agreed on a statement that did not single out Iran but made clear that all sides should back away from a much-feared military confrontation.

"Council members urge that differences must be addressed peacefully and through dialogue," said the statement backed by both Russia, a friend of Iran, and the United States.

Acting US Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen told the council that Washington's policy on Iran "remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table."

He also said he told the council that US evidence showed Iran was to blame for the attacks on tankers in the Gulf in May and June and called on the world to tell Iran it is "unacceptable."

Britain, France and Germany separately called for "de-escalation and dialogue, with full respect for international rules."

Tensions have soared after Iran last week shot down a US surveillance drone that Tehran insists had ventured into its airspace -- a claim rejected by Washington.

Trump triggered international alarm when he said on Friday that he had called off US military strikes against Iran at the last minute because he decided there would be too much collateral damage.

Tehran has denied responsibility for those attacks.

Cohen nevertheless said "the only state actor with the capabilities and the motive to carry out these attacks is Iran."

UN diplomats said the United States pressed to have a mention of a "state actor" responsible for the tanker attacks in the press statement, but that Russia rejected the language.

The Security Council is set on Wednesday to discuss the Iran nuclear deal that the United States has exited and that the Europeans are struggling to salvage.

That joint stance from world powers came just hours after US President Donald Trump slapped new sanctions on Iran, targeting supreme leader Ali Khamenei and eight Iranian commanders.

As the council met behind closed doors at Washington's request, Iran's UN ambassador told reporters that conditions were not ripe for dialogue with Washington.

"You cannot start a dialogue with somebody who is threatening you, who is intimidating you," said Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi, who said the "atmosphere of such a dialogue is not ready yet."

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